Can Windshield Wipers Damage Your Windshield?
Your car’s windshield wipers are one the easiest pieces of automotive equipment to maintain – replacing modern wipers is a quick and painless procedure. While it’s easier to replace your wipers than, say, change your oil, don’t let that fool you into thinking that your wipers are somehow less important!
Your windshield wipers give you a clear view of the road under adverse driving conditions like rain and snow, and as they age they do their job less well. However, even worse is that old wipers can cause windshield damage, including deep scratches, which may require complete auto glass replacement!
What Causes Windshield Wiper Scratches?
Windshield wiper scratches come about due to your wiper blades wearing out – new wiper blades are highly unlikely to cause scratches. The rubber blades of your wipers may appear to be one piece, but they actually consist of a flexible metal bar covered by a layer of rubber. Over time the rubber edge of your wipers is subject to wear, both through the friction of use but also due to UV exposure, cleaning solvents in washer fluid, and road debris.
Over time this will make your wipers less effective, resulting in wipers that leave behind smearing or water streaks. If this wear is left unchecked the problems can go from merely annoying to very costly; as the rubber wears away the springy internal metal bar may begin to peak through.
If allowed to come into contact with your windshield, this exposed metal can quickly result in deep scratches across your windshield glass. Depending on how long you allow bad windshield wipers to remain in use, you may need windshield repair services or even an entire windshield replacement.
In extreme cases windshield wiper blades may fully detach from the windshield wiper arm, causing the metal arm to make contact with the windshield. This can quickly result in severe damage and needs to be addressed immediately.
How Can I Tell If My Wiper Blades have damaged my windshield?
Certain types of windscreen damage are readily apparent, even to an automotive neophyte; a cracked windshield is easy to notice and is a clear sign that a repair is needed! However, many car owners won’t immediately recognize the type of damage brought on by bad wiper blades.
The problem tends to develop slowly, and the early signs can be masked by the simple fact that the wiper blades themselves aren’t working that well!
The earliest symptoms are limited vision while using your wipers. Most commonly this includes smearing and streaking after using your wipers. These smears and streaks will generally take the shape of an arc, following the path of your wiper. After noticing these symptoms it is a good idea to take a close look at your windshield wipers, checking the rubber for cracking, splitting, or other signs of wear.
Once the rubber has fully worn away the damage will rapidly accelerate. You’ll likely hear this happen, with your windshield wiper blades grinding and scraping their way across your windshield. As the metal is dragged across the glass surface it will leave behind scratches – at first thin, and soon worsening. If you spot faint, arc-shaped scratches this is a sure sign that your wipers are damaging your windshield and you need to have them replaced immediately.
If you’ve noticed signs of damage to your windshield it is important to have your windshield checked by a repair technician. Replacing your wipers will prevent further damage, but the existing damage can dangerously limit your visibility, impairing your ability to see road signs or pedestrians in bad conditions.
How Do I Repair Windshield Wiper Scratches?
As with many problems the best solution is prevention; by replacing your windshield wipers whenever they begin to show signs of wear you’ll prevent windshield wiper scratches from forming in the first place.
However, there will be times where deferred maintenance sneaks up on us and a bad windshield wiper is allowed to cause damage. In these cases the most important thing is to have a professional repair technician come out and investigate the severity of the damage.
In some cases the scratches will be able to be repaired. Keep in mind that windshield repairs should be left to the pros, as a bad repair can leave behind distortion, leaving worse visibility than the problem that was fixed.
Look for companies certified by the American Glass Safety Council. The AGSC is a not-for-profit that provides training and accreditation for auto glass repair, and reputable companies and service centers will carry their certification.
If your technician determines that the scratch can be repaired then they’ll use a specialized polishing tool and slowly buff the scratch out. As they work they’ll monitor the temperature of the glass to ensure glass’s lamination isn’t damaged, as well ensuring that the right ratio of polishing compound and water are used.
In the event that the scratches are found to be too deep to repair safely, you will need a windshield replacement. For older cars this is a straightforward process, albeit one that requires lots of care and attention to detail.
Modern cars with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) require an additional step where the ADAS is recalibrated. This calibration process is necessary as even small optical variations can cause the system to malfunction. Be sure to look for repair companies that have experience working with ADAS recalibration if you have a car with lane departure warning, forward collision detection, or other advanced safety features.
Windshield Wiper Damage Fixed
Whether your windshield wiper damage is minor or major, it is important for your safety to have the problem looked at and remedied ASAP. Whenever possible replace your windshield wipers before they wear to the point that they are damaging your windshield – preventative maintenance is always easier than retroactive repairs!
In the event that the damage has already been done, let Century Glass SC’s AGSC-certified technicians repair or replace your damaged windshield. With three locations around South Carolina, our technicians are standing by to restore your visibility and get you back on the road.
Call the Glass Experts at Century Glass
Century Glass is the glass company you can count on. We have a team of glass professionals who can assist you with your windshield, shower door, and home glass needs. We understand reliability and convenience are key. Our customers enjoy not just clearer glass, but see life’s moments more clearly.